Futuribile ma reale. Negli USA, Jim Kor ha preparato un’automobile ecologica ampiamente costruita con una stampante 3D. Insomma, dall’uso delle 3D come parte dei programmi di computer grafica, alla stampa in 3D, all’utilizzo per la produzione industriale di questo tipo di stampa. Inutile evidenziare come un evento come il pescarese “Starter 3D” in tale contesto si pone come momento di enorme rilevanza per l’economia e per la propensione alla Ricerca e allo Sviluppo in Italia: alle frontiere della tecnologia.
Le considerazioni dalle quali è partito il designer Jim Kor nel suo progetto, sono ovvie: oggi nel mondo circola un miliardo di automobili. Ci si aspetta che tra quarant’anni la cifra cresca sino a due miliardi e mezzo. Che vuol dire questo quanto a consumo di carburanti, aumento delle reti stradali e loro occupazione da parte di veicoli le cui dimensioni sono sinora cresciute fino ad arrivare ai tanti Suv che oggi ingombrano le nostre strade?
Ed ecco che Kor e un piccolo gruppo di collaboratori ha concepito e realizzato “Urbee”, prototipo di una piccola auto a due posti e tre ruote, tutta disegnata allo scopo di minimizzare i consumi. Non solo: la prima automobile prodotta in Digital Manufacturing. Nel 2013 Urbee ha preso a circolare. Pesa circa 500 kg e ha un “cx” di 0,15: praticamente nulla.
La struttura è metallica ma la carrozzeria è in Abs stampata in 3D con la collaborazione di RedEye on Demand/Statasys, società specializzata nella stampa in 3D.
Per la stampa in 3D Kor e i suoi hanno disegnato e assemblato elementi che mettono assieme parti che usualmente nelle auto sono separate: in pratica ha ridotto il numero dei pezzi di cui si compone la carrozzeria, così da facilitarne la produzione.
Ora Kor EcoLogic sta studiando Urbee 2, evoluzione del prototipo esistente. Urbee 2 sarà mossa da un motore elettrico e da un motore a bioetanolo. Con questa stanno programmando nel 2015 di attraversare tutti gli Stati Uniti, da New York a San Francisco, usando solo una sessantina di litri di combustibile. Non solo, adottando sistemi di sicurezza simili a quelli usati per le auto di Formula 1, Kor intende sovvenire al problema maggiore del prototipo attuale. A guidare Urbee 2 nella traversata del continente saranno i due figli di Kor.
In merito alla stampa in 3D riportiamo un articolo diffuso da Afp il 16 novembre
“3D printing ‘will change the world”
From replacement kidneys to guns, cars, prosthetics and works of art, 3D printing is predicted to transform our lives in the coming decades as dramatically as the Internet did before it.
“I have no doubt it is going to change the world,” researcher James Craddock told AFP at the two-day 3D Printshow in Paris which wraps up later on Saturday.
A member of the 3D Printing Research Group (3DPRG) at the UK’s Nottingham University, Craddock nevertheless predicted that use of 3D printing would be limited.
Want to make a cup from a 3D printer because it would probably fall apart, leak or poison you, but you would use it for high-value, beautiful items or replacement parts,” he said.
“The real revolutionary factor is industrial use,” he added.
Here is a selection of the potential future uses of 3D printing:
This is one of the more eye-catching prospects and has attracted a lot of publicity.
Californian engineering company Solid Concepts said earlier this month it had produced a metal replica of a classic 1911 shotgun.
US entrepreneur and inventor Brook Drumm, however, warned that the process of printing a gun would be slow, expensive and potentially dangerous, requiring lasers at high temperatures, lots of power and hazardous materials.
Drumm set up his firm Printrbot to produce printers costing from $400 that print plastic items.
Metal printers can cost around $250,000 (185,000 euros) and “the particulates are so fine that your skin could absorb them through the pores. The materials are not safe”, he said.
The gun itself — unless made out of metal — would also be unreliable.
“There’s a lot of moving parts in a gun and they need to be precise,” he said, adding that he tried to print a plastic gun but gave up because it took so long.
“Time-wise, if I was going to print a plastic gun and you were going to go and buy a metal one, even if it took you two weeks to get approval I probably still wouldn’t have it working first,” he said.
Fancy a replica of a Viking helmet or one of the Louvre’s most famous sculptures on the mantelpiece?
American Cosmo Wenman has used thousands of photographs taken in some of the world’s biggest museums to produce exact plastic copies.
Works he has produced include the ancient Greek statue Venus de Milo which is in the Louvre.
“If you look at the small print at museums in terms of taking photographs, they say that you cannot put them to commercial use,” he said.
“But from a practical point of view that is not enforceable and for antiquities there is no intellectual property issue,” he said.
Canadian Jim Kor’s 3D Urbee car is made out of plastic and stainless steel.
The futuristic-looking three-wheeler is electric but uses petrol at higher speeds.
Production designer Kor says if a car company mass produced the vehicle it would be possible to keep the price down to around $16,000 (12,000 euros).
“We want it to be the Volkswagen Beetle for the next century, low cost and long-lasting too,” he said.
“It should last 30-plus years. Our goal is that it should be 100 percent recyclable.”
Jewellery can made to ensure that each piece is slightly different, known as “mass customisation”.
3D printing can also make the production process far less expensive and time consuming.
Dutch jewellery designer Yvonne van Zummeren produces a range of jewellery made out of lightweight nylon polyamide.
“All my designs are based on works of art,” she said holding a bracelet that uses a Matisse motif.
“It enables me to be a jewellery designer much more easily. Otherwise I would have needed a factory in China and a minimum order of 20,000,” she added.
“When you are producing something for the first time it means you can adapt and try again very easily until you get the result you want.”
– Prosthetics can be custom made to provide the perfect match.
Electronics could be built in allowing the recipient accurate control of the limb.
“It would all be printed out at the same time,” said 3DPRG’s Craddock.
– Replacement parts
One-off parts are needed by everyone from NASA to the person who loses an unusual jacket button.
Rocket engine fuel pumps have already being 3 D printed with only two moving parts (usually 150), in one quarter of usual times, at 10% of the cost, and are now proved capable of coping with the heat and pressures of engine firing. Over the years, rockets as a whole will become far cheaper and safer. Added to full re-usability , the paradigm of “Space is too Expensive” will be extinct. There is also the making spare part tools for the ISS ( late 2014), and the development of industry on the Moon, Mars and asteroids will be vastly facilitated in cost and speed. The biggest longterm gain for the world from 3D printing will be the affordable, in situ, expanding industry of development and settlement of Space. Needless to say, this expansion will help the Earth more than any hairshirt regimes based on deprivations on billions of humans to support self-serving, corrupt Green elites and bureaucrats. The dystopian future of Limits to Growth, as envisaged by Malthus and Orwell, and openly desired by so-called “Friends of the Earth” will thankfully be a Hell confined to literature. The lid will be off the bottle.
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